Saturday, January 27, 2007
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Guangzhou, China
U.S. WOMEN RESUME FOUR NATIONS TOURNAMENT AGAINST ENGLAND: The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its second match of the 2007 Four Nations Tournament on Sunday, January 28, against England, in the first meeting between the two teams since the spring of 2003. The match kicks off at 4 p.m. local time / 3 a.m. ET and will follow the China-Germany clash at 1:30 p.m. local time. The USA is coming off an intense 0-0 draw with Germany and will be looking to create more scoring chances against the gutsy English while continuing the air-tight defense that kept the reigning Women’s World Cup champions off the board. The USA will likely have to win its final two matches, against England and China, to win the tournament, but that is not the primary goal of U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, who brought a young team to China to get them some big game experience. Lauren Cheney got her first career cap against Germany, Stephanie Lopez went 90 minutes at left back to get her 10th cap and several other young players also complemented the few veterans that were on the field against the Germans (video highlights). It is likely that more young players will get some quality minutes against England.
CAT QUOTES: After earning her 100th career cap against Germany, Cat Whitehill's cut lip didn't stop her from answering 11 questions for ussoccer.com, ranging from her joining the Century Club, her career so far and her love for college football.
WHITEHILL, MARKGRAF OK FOR ENGLAND GAME: Despite some bruising and swelling suffered when they inadvertently cracked heads against Germany, both Kate Markgraf and Whitehill will be ready to go against England. Whitehill’s swollen lip and nose have gone down considerably in just one day and while Markgraf has quite a shiner after receiving four stitches above her right eyebrow, she too will be fit and ready for selection against the English.
2006 Four Nations Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts. GF GA GD
CHN 1 0 0 3 2 0 +2
USA 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
GER 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
ENG 0 1 0 0 0 2 -2
China 2, England 0
USA 0, Germany 0
China vs. Germany 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. England 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET
Germany vs. England 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. China 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET
USA-ENGLAND PREVIEW: For the most part, England has their top squad to the Four Nations, with a notable absence being captain Faye White who is recovering from knee surgery, but all of England’s attacking talents are in China. England’s best-ever player is attacking midfielder Kelly Smith, a former star for the Philadelphia Charge of the WUSA. While she has been hampered by injuries over the past few years, when healthy, she is one of the most dangerous and dynamic attacking talents in the world. England did not use several first-choice players in the 2-0 opening match loss to China, most notably starting goalkeeper Rachel Brown, outside back Rachel Unitt (who played three minutes), slashing winger Rachel Yankey and blazing fast forward Eniola Aluko. While the USA is missing five key veterans, they will still have the athleticism to match the English while both teams will be looking for their first goal of the tournament. England head coach Hope Powell, like U.S. boss Greg Ryan, will be looking at players with an eye on selection for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The USA is 6-2-0 all-time against England and has won the last six meetings after dropping two games in the mid-1980s. In fact, the USA has won five of the last six by shutout, including the most recent meeting on May 17, 2003, in Birmingham, Ala., when England melted in blazing hot temperatures and suffered a 6-0 loss. The retired Cindy Parlow scored four goals in that match. Only four U.S. players who played in that match are on the Four Nations roster, and just one started (Whitehill, in her hometown), but the English are no doubt much improved since then. Ranked 12th in the world, England has qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time since 1995.
Draw Against France Sees English Through to China
England was perhaps the surprise winner of European Group 5 in Women’s World Cup qualifying as most pundits predicted France to take top honors. The group came down to the very last match between England and France on Sept. 30, 2006, with England needing just a draw in France to qualify for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. They got just that going ahead in the 64th minute before France made things interesting with a goal in the 88th minute. Still, England went unbeaten in qualifiers, winning six games and drawing two while scoring 29 goals and giving up just two to earn its berth to China.
United States Women’s National Team Roster – Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
GOALKEEPERS: 1-Briana Scurry, 18-Hope Solo;
DEFENDERS: 17-Lori Chalupny, 8-Tina Frimpong, 14-Stephanie Lopez, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts, 27-India Trotter, 4-Cat Whitehill;
MIDFIELDERS: 20-Yael Averbuch, 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 23-Joanna Lohman, 7-Marci Miller, 12-Leslie Osborne;
FORWARDS: 25-Lauren Cheney, 6-Natasha Kai, 26-Casey Nogueira, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley.
England Women’s National Team Roster -- Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
GOALKEEPERS: 1-Rachel Brown, 13-Siobhan Chamberlain;
DEFENDERS: 17-Lindsay Johnson, 2-Alex Scott, 19-Casey Stoney, 5-Anita Asante, 6-Mary Phillip, 3-Rachel Unitt;
MIDFIELDERS: 17-Jill Scott, 12-Vicky Exley, 8-Fara Williams, 10-Kelly Smith, 20-Emily Westwood, 4-Katie Chapman;
FORWARDS: 14-Jody Handley, 9-Eniola Aluko, 16-Lianne Sanderson, 7-Karen Carney, 18-Sue Smith, 11-Rachel Yankey.
U.S. head coach Greg Ryan on England:
“I scouted the Euros and I thought England was very unlucky not to get to the semifinals. I thought they were much better than Denmark on that day and (a win) would have put them in. I think England is a very strong team, collectively. They are very hard, very physical and very well organized, and I think that’s really their strength. In terms of the quality of their players, when I watched them play (in the 2005 European Championships), they were playing with two wingers, Carney and Yankey, and I thought both could create off the dribble and finish chances. I thought at that time, if they had a striker like we have in Abby Wambach, they would be winning most of their matches and pushing into the top five or six in the world. They may have found that, we’ll find out this week.”
On England star midfielder Kelly Smith:
“In the midfield, Kelly Smith was a handful (at the European Championships). She got hurt in that tournament a bit, but she adds so much energy to the attack out of the middle.”
On the England defense:
“I thought the wing backs were very, very strong, and the center backs as well, but I think the wing backs were able to close down any attacks from the flanks so it didn’t get too dangerous. And I thought the goalkeeping was very, very good.”
Defender Cat Whitehill, who played with England National Team players Rachel Yankey and Rachel Unitt in 2005 for the W-League’s New Jersey Wildcats:
“The English have so much savvy. You can tell they’ve grown up watching the English Premier League and they have a passion for the game. Their understanding of the game is, I think, among the tops in the world. They just need some more experience and they will get that after qualifying for the Women’s World Cup. Obviously, they are extremely committed to every tackle and 50/50 ball so we will be in for a tough, physical match for sure.”
LOHMAN, TARPLEY TAKE TEAM PING-PONG TITLE: To say there is not much to do in and around the team hotel in Guangzhou, China, would be an understatement, so two days before the start of the Four Nations Tournament, the U.S. players decided to stage a doubles ping-ping tournament. A random draw decided the 10 teams and the players smacked the ping-ball ball around until four semifinalists remained; Joanna Lohman/Lindsay Tarpley vs. Leslie Osborne/Heather O’Reilly and Hope Solo/Natasha Kai vs. Marci Miller/Stephanie Lopez. Both semifinals were not close, but they did not play out entirely the way the players expected. To no one’s surprise, Lohman and Tarpley dominated their semifinal, but Kai and Solo went into the their semifinal undefeated in group play, only to suffer a crushing and total defeat to upstarts Miller and Lopez. While the surprise finalists couldn’t handle the dominating paddle skills of Lohman and Tarpley in the championship game, they did earn the respect of their teammates for the Cinderella run. The team of Tina Frimpong/Lauren Cheney earned the Fair Play Award for maintaining positive attitudes and still having fun while losing all of their group round matches. Keep a lookout on ussoccer.com’s all_access video for highlights from the tournament.
GUANGDONG TOURIST BUREAU: Want to see where the U.S. Women’s National Team is spending its 13 days in China? Heather O’Reilly will take you on a tour. The young U.S. forward show fans of ussoccer.com’s all_access video the spectacular Guangdong Olympic Training Center and Stadium where the USA is playing all three of its matches at the 2007 Four Nations Tournament (watch).
YEAR OF THE PIG: The Chinese New Year is fast approaching and while the U.S. team will miss the festivities (Feb. 18), there are signs everywhere of the celebrations to come in 2007, which is the Year of the Pig. There are pig banners, pig figurines, pig statues, stuffed animal pigs and even pig steak at the team meals (pork chops). A few of the U.S. players even got pig flashlights as a gift for doing interviews for CCTV. In short, pigs are flying in China.
STAT OF NOTE
The U.S. team has allowed just 0.27 goals per game in Greg Ryan’s 36 games as head coach of the USA.
Quote of the Day:
Defender Stephanie Lopez, 20, on being a young player competing for a spot on the 2007 Women’s World Cup roster:
“Since my first time in with the senior team two years ago, it’s been an amazing growth process for me as a young player. I’ve needed to find a balance in being patient with my role, but also believing that I can make a difference on this team. But I’ve loved every stage I’ve gone through, even though it has been hard, and I’m so happy that I’m at the point where I am comfortable and can have fun every time out there.”